The first thing to be said is that writers write so people can read them. We talk so people can listen to us, and if we are smart, we make what we say interesting to our audience. It is the same for people writing, and anybody who says they write only for themselves is being just a bit dishonest. We all crave an audience, but we wouldn't write if we didn't enjoy it. When I write, I'm chatting with my reader, trying to persuade somebody to look at things differently, to question the established view. It's fine by me if they decide the established view is good, so long as they get the habit of questioning
With email lists and such on the Web, almost anybody can get an audience these days — poetry, reminiscences, anecdotes and bad puns are all catered for. So let's stop kidding ourselves: if we are writing for publication in any serious way, it is because we want some audience to enjoy what we are saying and how we say it.
Writers are like engineers — given a choice between an overseas holiday, a pay rise or an award plaque to hang on the wall, the average engineer will take the plaque, and writers are much the same. They crave awards, plaudits and applause, and because I am being brutally honest, I have had a few minor awards too, and some nice reviews, and I am greatly pleased with them. We won't talk about the silly reviews just yet . . . and maybe not at all. Nobody ever erected a statue to a critic, said Sibelius, but nobody ever erected one to me, either.
You write so people will read you. Every time you hear somebody speak of a "famous writer", ask yourself: "where would that famous writer be without lots of famous readers like me?". I have been a famous reader since I was very young, and I suppose, in a way, I am writing for all the me clones there are out there. If I can touch people's thinking in some way, I suppose I have succeeded.
This file is http://members.ozemail.com.au/~macinnis/writing/why.htm
It was drafted on September 8, 2009, as I geared up to write Australian Backyard Naturalist. Last revised November 25, 2010, as I was working on the research for my third book with the National Library of Australia.
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